Anna 'Chantal' Benjamin-Badjie 1958-2015

Anna 'Chantal' Benjamin-Badjie

Few, if anyone, lucky enough to have met Chantal Badjie, could ever forget her.

A vibrant and vivacious character, her friendly, radiant personality impressed everyone she encountered.

Chantal, who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, did immeasurable work for the BBC's Black and Asian forum for many years and cared passionately about diversity and the BBC.

Her funeral was held today (Thursday) at Southgate Crematorium. Many former BBC colleagues attended the service, including former Director General, Mark Thompson, who spoke on behalf of everyone who knew her here, at the BBC.

Poet Benjamin Zephaniah also spoke at the service where Chantal's son, Kemi Benjamin, delivered a eulogy. He said: "To say that my mother was merely passionate about the BBC, would seriously neglect what she believed the BBC is and what it stands for.

"For Chantal, the BBC was a catalyst for change, in a nation that could see it but didn't necessarily know how to deal with it. From flagship projects like the Abolition series to the changing face of a nation (Mixed Race Britain), mum firmly believed that the BBC was a vehicle that could shift perception, drive change, inform the un-informed and create a better future for a new generation of listeners, both at home and abroad."

Here, a selection of colleagues who knew her best, supply their memories of a remarkable and popular woman.

Winston Phillips, Chair, BBC Black and Asian Forum, said: "Chantal was passionate about diversity and quite driven about making the BBC a more diverse place to work, for all minority groups.

"She was outlandish, outspoken and full of energy and her trademark Afro hairstyle made her stand out from the crowd.

"She will always be remembered."

David Olusoga, Producer and Presenter, said: "After I was diagnosed with a medical condition that forced me to leave a production halfway through, after Chantal heard, she rushed to comfort me.

"Throughout a long illness she always kept me up to date with BBC gossip and, on the day I returned, the first email welcoming me back was from Chantal. I will always miss her enthusiasm."

Infectious Energy

Tommy Nagra, Head of Channel Development & Partnerships, said: "You could never walk past Chantal with just a quick 'hi' and 'bye' as she'd be guaranteed to regale you with a funny story, an amusing anecdote or, failing that, just give you an almighty hug. Her energy was infectious and magnetic. I will miss her enormously."

Simone Pennant, the TV Collective, said: "Chantal's huge mane of curly hair, raucous laugh and unashamed honesty about who she was, was a refreshing reminder that being different and truly embracing who you are can only bring about brilliance. She was not only my work colleague but a close friend. We shared a celestial connection and she will be truly missed."

Sonia Cooper, Communications Manager, BBC Studios Project, said: "I first met Chantal back in 2000 when she worked in news publicity for television. She was outspoken, animated and passionate about what she did and always wore a bright smile. She will be sadly missed."

Angelique Haliburton, Web Producer, said: "I will always remember Chantal's enduring passion and drive for a more diverse BBC, both on and off air."

Irresistible ideas

Frances Weil, Head of Engagement, Events and Visits, Director-General's Office, said: "Chantal cared as deeply as anyone I've ever known about the BBC.

"She was smart, creative and fun. She didn't know any other way to be. She brought the place together like no-one else. I think that's because her ideas were irresistible, and she inspired confidence.

"I loved the fact she always focused on the audience - always looking out and up. That's a surprisingly rare, and precious, gift. The only thing she loved more than the BBC was her family. I heard stories of Kemi, Leon, her husband, her mum, her grandma all the time. She was so protective - and so proud of them."



Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.